Books · Review

Review | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

There are books that make me wonder about the universe.

There are books that make me wonder about love.

There are books that make me question who I am.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of those books.

aristotle and dante

Summary

Aristotle, nicknamed Ari, is a Mexican-American teenager living in El Paso. He’s a psuedo-only child. He doesn’t know who he is. He’s angry.

And then he meets Dante.

Dante, the swimmer. Dante, the artist. Dante, with the wonderful parents. Dante, with uncensored…well, everything.

Together, maybe they can begin to understand the secrets of the universe.

Review

This book is just…amazing.

There is such a natural feel to this book. The characters, dialogue and situations just seemed so real to me while reading.

I love how this is a YA book about families, and how family members interact. It wasn’t a YA book where the teenager just wanted to rebel against his parents. Ari wants to know and understand his surroundings. Aristotle and Dante explores what it really means to know your parents, and ultimately, yourself.

Ari is a unique protagonist with a common situation. He’s trying to face what he doesn’t understand about himself, and often that leads to a lot of poignant thoughts. It’s great for a coming-of-age story.

One of the best ideas he has is that adults sometimes don’t act like adults. This is a really key since he’s trying to understand what it means to grow up. It really becomes a book about how unattainable and unrealistic the ideal of “mature adult” is.

And yes, this is a LGBTQ book. But for me it really was a vehicle used to get the major point across about facing ourselves, especially the parts we want to hide away.

The interaction between Dante and Ari is complex and heartwarming. It’s a real relationship, that  has its ups and downs, and they have real conversations. They’re best friends. In fact, this book features a lot of dialogue, which I enjoyed reading and I think has a lot of significance. Often Ari doesn’t overlap internal thoughts with dialogue. It says a lot about how he doesn’t say what he actually feels.

My only complaint is a minor one: the initiation of Dante and Ari’s relationship is rather rushed. They simply meet at the pool, share comic books and ideas and BAM! insta-friends. It happens in one sentence. I don’t actually mind much since that’s not really what the book is about, but the suddenness of it felt like a jerk from a pothole on an otherwise smooth drive.

Recommendation: Bookmarked For Life. Readers of John Green and who loved Eleanor and Park should definitely read this book. Also those who enjoy LGBTQ or coming-of-age stories. And anyone who is unsure about themselves…this book is definitely for you.

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3 thoughts on “Review | Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

  1. Yes I love how the families form an integral part of the story.
    Also, I didn’t mind their instant friendship but I did mind how the book ended. It was a bit unnatural that Ari realizes on the last page that okay, maybe he likes Dante too.
    I was on the edge of my seat hoping he would like him back!

    Like

    1. Hm, I saw it as Ari falling in love with Dante over the course of the book, and finally admitting it to himself by the end of it. But yeah, the final declaration is a bit rushed.

      Liked by 1 person

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